Online strategies for fashion brands in China
Click here to listen to episode 89 where Olivier Vérot from Gentleman Marketing Agency (GMA) talked about online presence and strategies used by fashion brands in China. He explains the role of branded websites, describes the different SEO strategies, and shares information on how to open a Tmall store in China.
Full transcript below:
Welcome to Daxue Talks, a show powered by Daxue Consulting, a China based strategic market research company founded in 2010.
I’m Olivier Verot, I’m the founder of Gentleman Market Agency – GMA, we’re a digital marketing agency focused on performance, we are based in Shanghai.
When you’re a fashion brand, how do you use your own branded website in order to get visibility and get sales?
It’s a very good question that most of brands are asking. Basically, in China your website, your own website is not necessary. It’s a plus. But it’s not necessary – I’ll tell you why. The promotion are not on this platform and the buying are not on this platform, so if you have a website it’s kind of like a window, so Its kind of like a place where you need to show yourself, explain yours story if the people want to have more information. So, we don’t recommend to sell your fashion brands on your ecommerce website. Commission rate will be extremely low. You can regulate these people to your Tmall store, to your JingDong store, to your WeChat store, to whatever platform they want if the people want to buy.
You can also direct this traffic to your social media like WeChat, like Weibo, like Little Red Book, like Douyin if the people want to follow to get more information.
So, the platform is really to – your website you need to create a platform where people – you attract the traffic in one side, and you have to redirect the traffic easily in the other side. So, don’t make it too complex, don’t put too much information, don’t put hundreds of pages – anyway people will not read hundreds of pages – 10 pages, easy to read, easy to understand, maybe a video to understand who you are, and after the question is – how to attract traffic to this website, so its basically working on the search engine, because if people search, if they have questions, they will search and they will visit your website. If also you’re working on B2B because you’ll need to sell your website to your potential partners and it’s also if you want to have the distributors that want to distribute your brand.
So, a lot of business in B2B – the people are going to your website and they would like to see if there is a potential collaboration with distributors.
In ecommerce basically you have the direct way to sell, so you sell with your own Tmall platform, but you can have distributors that are selling to Tmall your product. This is a B2B negotiation that you have with them, and they like to visit your website, to see If there is a potential collaboration and then they will contact you and discuss, if they like the brand and if they like the product.
How useful is it to invest in a Search Engine Optimisation when you are a fashion brand?
If you invest in SEO, you should invest in a specific kind of SEO, that is kind of basically what we call a SEO for the reputation. Let me explain to you how it works –
Before investing the key words, that’s like – if you are a bags brand and you want to sell bags, its maybe easy at the beginning to only focus on your brand name than to control all the results. So, you can control the results with the forums, with the Q&A and if you do some press – online press, you can put these articles on your brand name. so basically, you control what we call the brand zone – so all the top 10 results on your name plus the different command that you have.
After, you can also work on your SEO for more business key words. So, for example if you want to – if you sell bags, you can target on the keyword bags – so when people search bags, you can bring some visitors. So, you attract traffic, people want to know more, and this kind of like traffic can redirect to your website. It costs a lot and usually what we see – it’s not all positive. So, it doesn’t bring or generate sales as what brand requests or adwords in Google.
However, there is some special term or special question where you can apply, and it can be extremely good. So for example if you are doing like a very good quality of leather bags, then you can appear on these long term keywords because if the people are searching high quality French leather bag and you appear there, if you only get like 50 visitors per day, these visitors are extremely good quality. So, this can bring good results.
There is also some kind of little bit hack techniques that you can also use, it’s basically to steal the traffics of other brands. So for example like if you want to compare yourself to AMS you can put leather bags – AMS and then you can write an article to speak about the difference between you and them and you can position it yourself on the keywork leather bag AMS – so you can steal some traffic, so if the people are thinking of buying an AMS bag in leather, they have the opportunity to compare yourself or the other. What you need to understand, its like in the mind of the girls, especially for the Chinese girls when it’s a matter of luxury products they will search a lot, and when they search, they like to compare. They like to compare this brand with the other and they like to understand, to have an idea. So, this is kind of like how to go, it’s just a simple explanation to compare this one with the other one. What quality this one uses, what quality the other one. It’s a little bit grey in the West, because in the West we think its not very ethical, but in China it’s happened a lot and in the manner of the consumer it’s very normal, there is nothing bad about this, to compare.
What is the process of opening an efficient Tmall store for a fashion brand and what are the associated costs?
I don’t have the exact data; it’s changing all the time. It also changes if you’re a fast fashion brand or if you’re a luxury brand. If you’re a luxury brand you can also integrate the Tmall pavilion, so the price are different and we also see by experience that price are really different on the brands. Some brands are invited by Tmall. So Tmall finds them, invites them and they give them a very, very low price with very, very good conditions to make it.
It’s really different and you have also some brands who are quite new who have – basically they don’t feel any potentially so they will put basically the full price on them. So, it really depends.
The second factor, if you are to design your store, its also the same. You can make it minimum – so for $5000 or for $10,000 you have a Tmall store – its not perfect, but you have it and if you want to have very good, very long, very personalised pictures – the cost of the Tmall stores can reach to $10,000 to $50,000 to have something really, really good, because the page and the content on Tmall usually are very long, very detailed and if you read – it takes time to do it very well, it can really cost a lot. Usually the brands – or we advise the brands to first arrive and make something cost effective at the beginning to try, even if you take their own picture in the West to look like they’re western – its fine – then we learn, we adapt and in step two we reload Tmall and we upgrade it to better versions and especially to the page that we think they have a good potential. So instead of basically putting all the money at the beginning, you have to do it, to develop it step by step.
So, that’s basically my logic, first you learn, you make mistakes, your budget it not very high and when you feel that its doing very well, its doing very good, then you can basically increase your learning page and basically put more traffic, buy more KOL’s for this page or this product.
As we know inventory is key for fashion brands, especially clothing. How do you manage logistics, warehouse and stocks inventories for a fashion brand selling online?
We use partners. We are 100% trust bound with our clients. If you go to our office you would see nobody is packing, we have no warehouse, its totally not our job. In China there is a lot of logistics company, so they can choose, they are usually pretty effective, they don’t cost much, and they are very, very well organised. I mean we can not compete with all the commodities they have with the logistics companies, so they choose a partner and this logistic company is managing the warehouse and the stocks and all this. In fashion usually you have some logistic companies that are specific to the fashion, they have a way to organise their stores, so its totally not our core business.
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